Find a new way to get kids baking, with Middle Eastern Sweets
Children will love the playful recipes in our new book, and you’ll love the fresh new flavours
Salma Hage, the Bestselling Lebanese author, has loved baking ever since she was a child. In her new book, Middle Eastern Sweets, she writes that, “for many of us, our first experiences in the kitchen involve flour, butter, and sugar.
“Cutting cookies into stars, suns, and moons, rolling out dough, and of course, licking the spoon after making cake batter or icing, all make entertaining work for little hands, and there are few childhood pleasures more rewarding than turning seemingly random ingredients into a delectable treat to be offered to family and friends,” she concludes.
The treats contained in Middle Eastern Sweets are just a little different from the ones you might have grown up with. The book is filled with recipes that draw on a flavour profile that might be less familiar for many of us, with unusual fruits, nuts and spices adding novel twists to well-loved dishes.
Take her recipe for fig jam thumbprint cookies. Hage argues that this is a great dish for young bakers, even if the filling might push their palette a little.
"Thumbprint cookies are a perfect thing to make with children, and are so simple that after a few batches you’re unlikely to need to look at the recipe apart from a cursory confirmation of weights and measures,” she writes. “This fig jam has a sophisticated ‘adult’ flavour, but if you’re cooking for little ones who prefer strawberry or raspberry jam, by all means use that instead.”
To make it you’ll need ¾ cup (2¾ oz/80g) of confectioners’ (icing) sugar; 5½ oz/150g of unsalted butter, softened; one egg yolk; the grated zest of an orange; ⅛ teaspoon of fine sea salt; 1⅓ cups (7 oz/200 g) of all-purpose (plain) flour; and five tablespoons fig jam.
Cream the sugar, butter, egg yolk, and orange zest together with an electric mixer. Add the salt and the flour, ⅓ cup (1¾ oz/50 g) at a time, until a soft, pliable dough forms. Roll the dough into a ball and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.When you’re ready to assemble, have an electronic scale nearby and line a baking sheet with parchment (baking) paper. Weigh out ¾ oz/20 g of the dough (about the size of a walnut) and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Place it on the baking sheet and push down with your thumb to make an indent in the center. Spoon in a little of the fig jam and repeat with the remaining dough and jam.Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
To get the recipe for the fig jam in this dish, as well as many more sweet, delicious dishes, order a copy of Middle Eastern Sweets here.